Promotional Features

Consumer survey shows strong demand for sustainable packaging in Europe

Paid for and content provided by Huhtamaki

The following content is provided by an advertiser or created on behalf of an advertiser. It is not written by the editorial team, nor does it necessarily reflect the opinions of

For more information, please contact us here​.

Survey highlights consumers willing to pay extra for sustainable packaging and over 65s lead the way

Last updated on

Consumer appetite for sustainable products is shaping the packaging market.

Packaging now needs to be not only renewable, recyclable, or compostable, but consumers also expect clearer and more transparent recycling information, especially when dining out at cafes and restaurants. A recent independent survey of Finnish consumers highlights these evolving expectations and shows that respondents, particularly those aged over 65, are eager to recycle packaging.

Consumers expect more from the products they purchase, and packaging is no exception. The survey, commissioned by global packaging solutions provider Huhtamaki, showed that consumers consider sustainable packaging to be important. More than one in three respondents said they would even be willing to pay a little bit extra for more sustainable packaging, and 8% would be willing to pay significantly more for a product that was packaged sustainably.

“40% of consumers surveyed had a positive response and are willing to spend more on sustainably produced or sourced goods. This is significant given that even though many households in Finland are under increasing economic pressure, sustainability is still important,” says Salla Ahonen, Executive Vice President, Sustainability and Communications at Huhtamaki.

The insights from the Finnish consumer survey align with global studies. A Nielsen IQ study found that 78% of customers value sustainability, and 43% base their purchasing decisions on the environmental impact of product packaging.1

Image 1

People over 65 more positive towards recycling

In addition to consumer expectations, regulatory changes are strongly shaping the future of packaging solutions, with rising recycling targets, for example across the EU. According to the European Environment Agency (EEA), the highest recycling rate in 2021 was registered for packaging, with 64 percent being recycled.2

In the recent Finnish consumer survey, most respondents were satisfied with how they recycle packaging materials. Eight out of 10 reported that they recycle paper-based packaging, and as many as nine out of ten recycle cardboard boxes. Somewhat surprisingly, individuals aged over 65 had a more positive attitude towards recycling than younger generations.

Image 3

“Over 80% of participants feel that they recycle enough or nearly enough. And, interestingly the survey found that women are more enthusiastic recyclers than men. Traditionally, younger people are considered to be the forerunners in this area but, older people may have more time to focus on recycling, raising the question – has recycling been made easy enough?” says Ahonen.

Regarding packaging materials for food, beverages and household goods, 67% wanted to see fiber-based, paper-based or cardboard-based materials being used in packaging. And one in two wanted to increase the use of recyclable plastic, such as innovative mono-materials.

Innovation across the value chain is key in ensuring packaging materials are not wasted, and the resource they represent is reused. Huhtamaki has a strong track record in innovating and launching sustainable, recyclable packaging solutions at a global scale. This includes smooth molded fiber lids in fiber packaging and ground-breaking mono-material technologies in flexible packaging.

However, manufacturing recyclable packaging is not enough. By prioritising renewable sources, helping to build infrastructure for collection, working with recyclers and composters, and by participating in educating and empowering consumers, the company strives to ensure circularity of its packaging.

Image 2

Collaboration needed across the value chain

The food delivery market has witnessed expansive growth, fuelled by the increasing demand for convenient and time-saving solutions, and growing at an annual growth rate of 12.7%.3

Consumers not only want convenient and quick delivery but also high-quality meals and sustainable packaging. The survey showed that people are likely to recycle packaging used for both takeouts and home deliveries.

“More transparency, information and clear instructions are still required with respect to recycling messaging when eating out. For example, consumers want to understand more about how the recycle system works in restaurants and the environmental impact of different types of food service packaging,” Ahonen points out.

Collaboration across the value chain, from consumer goods companies to packaging raw material suppliers and packaging manufacturers to waste management, is fundamental to develop and accelerate adoption of recycling solutions. In 2022, Huhtamaki joined forces with paper and pulp company Stora Enso to launch a paper cup recycling initiative, The Cup Collective.

Image 4

The program aims to recycle and capture the value of used paper cups at an industrial scale, setting new standards for paper cup collection and recycling in Europe. The aim is to make it as easy as possible for consumers to recycle their paper cup, ensuring that no cup is left behind.

“This survey highlights to the importance of working together to create functional recycling systems that are comprehensive and provide easy-to-understand guidelines and messaging for consumers,” says Ahonen.

Global market and innovation leader in packaging for food and everyday necessities Huhtamaki commissioned Aula Research to conduct an independent and anonymous digital survey during the period 5-13 March 2024. There was a total of 1,483 respondents, and the target groups were over-18s living in mainland Finland.


1. ​Nielsen IQ study. Sustainability: the new consumer spending outlook. 
2. ​European Environment Agency. Waste recycling in Europe.
3. ​Statista. Online Food Delivery – Worldwide.

More content from Huhtamaki